Outstanding, in the world's strongest system
Welsh honey judges wear their distinction proudly
The Welsh system of honey judging standardization and certification is the most stringent in the world. Here are two progress reports:
TANA PEERS (Shelbyville, Ky.): Watch my hat and coat
In Tana's words: "I began my certification in 2012, and I graduated the first year in a stewardship to assist other Welsh judges. At that level, I was not allowed to judge, but to help with the set-up and all record- keeping for each show. In the Georgia Welsh Honey Judge Program, a steward has to work a minimum of three certified shows, assisting certified judges before I could go to the next level, which is level-2 judging.
"I stewarded under Robert Brewer and Keith Fielder, two judges from Georgia. These men were trained by Michael Young, MBE (Master of the British Empire) from Scotland, and were the only two Welsh Honey Judges in the U.S. at that time.
"The next year, since I completed the third level, I got to attend Young Harris College in Georgia again, and this time I was being trained as a Certified Welsh Honey Judge. I worked diligently for three days to pass my test and to be awarded the coveted hat and coat one earns for graduating the program.
"Nine people started the course and three, including me, earned the title of Welsh Honey Judge. I don’t remember the overall cost of the program, but it is less than $200 for a week for three years.
"I now judge seven county fairs in Kentucky each year and local honey shows. I’m qualified to judge anything that has to do with Apis mellifera mellifera, made by the honey bee, including wax, candles and photos of bees. In one show in Canada, I got to judge beer and furniture wax made with beeswax.
"Another fun thing is that I’ve had a couple of stewards to assist me, and that was a great help. I have a sweet job."
JAMES KOLASA (Lexington, Ky.): In the home stretch
James Kolasa’s training was interrupted due to the pandemic; he hopes to finish next year. It takes at least two years to complete the training, put together the requirements, and get tested.
Kolasa’s training took place at Young Harris Beekeeping Institute at Young Harris College on Georgia’s northern border. Other programs are at Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and are coming soon to South Carolina and Tennessee.
The program conducts beginner training, followed by a year of stewarding several shows and compiling a portfolio and a judging kit. “Then you return to the Institute, present your portfolio and your judging kit, and take your licensing exam,” Kolasa said.
Kolasa has stewarded several large shows in Georgia, judged shows in Kentucky, and given public presentations on preparing show exhibits. He enjoys being in the forefront of honey production excellence. “No matter if my own bees are having a good year or bad year, I get to ‘stay in the game’ and see what others are producing,” Kolasa said.